New York -Marking the launch of a new Telematics service to rival General Motor’s OnStar, Wingcast announced at the New York Auto Show today that it will make its long awaited debut in four Nissan Infinity vehicles this fall.
Wingcast, a Ford and QUALCOMM company, will be the exclusive provider of telematics services for the new Infinity G35 Coupe and M45 as well as the G35 sedan and Q45. It is also expected to be available on certain Ford vehicles later this year, said a Wingcast spokeswoman.
Wingcast will provide call-in center-based emergency and concierge services. These include automatic airbag deployment notification to emergency services, emergency assistance and stolen vehicle tracking. It will also allow handsfree voice activated calling, call forwarding and voice mail, navigation and information services such as news, stocks, and weather. The system will also offer concierge services via the live operator so users may ask where to get tickets to a show and order the tickets, as an example.
The telematics will be offered via digital trimode service on the Verizon network with pricing to be announced. The Infinity system has a four-button interface, a microphone and it uses the car’s audio system.
The Wingcast announcement follows the recent revelation by GM that Onstar’s renewal rate for its service is at about 50 percent, down from 70 percent in 1999 indicating a higher ‘churn’ than in previous years.
A spokeswoman for Wingcast claimed, ‘OnStar has done a great job of defining the category but what it will take for telematics to take off is wider availability. The average consumer doesn’t know what it is. OnStar has GM and Acura but there are a lot of other cars in the US. The pervasive thought is that once it is in a variety of cars like Ford, Nissan and Toyota and once consumer realize the functionality of it, it will take off.’
She noted that hands free calling legislation is being considered in 40 states and that 70 percent of cellphone calls originate from the car so that the hands free dialing feature alone, will help popularize the service.
OnStar is currently available on 36 GM vehicles. OnStar claimed to have 2 million subscribers at the end of 2001.